On Monday, July 13, the California Legislature passed last-minute amendments to California’s paid sick leave law that took effect July 1. These amendments – which are effective immediately – clarify several aspects of the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 and allow employers greater flexibility in crafting compliant sick leave policies. Below are highlights of some of the changes to the law, while the full text of the amendments can be read here.

30 Days Work Requirement: Before an employee is eligible to accrue paid sick leave, the employee must work in the state of California for at least 30 days. The amendments clarify that the employee must work for the same employer for at least 30 days within a year from date of hire to be eligible to accrue sick leave.

Alternative Accrual: Employers must allow employees to accrue paid sick leave at a rate not less than 1 hour for every 30 hours worked. The amendments allow employers to use a different method of accrual so long as the accrual is on a regular basis and it provides employees with at least 24 hours of sick leave by the 120th day of employment each year (or other 12-month cycle).

Grandfather Clause: Significantly, the amendments add a grandfather clause for employers that had a sick leave or other paid time off policy prior to January 1, 2015. Under the clause, an employer’s method of accrual will be grandfathered so long as the accrual occurs on a regular basis, provides an employee with at least 8 hours of sick leave within 3 months of employment each year (or other 12-month period), and provides at least 24 hours of sick leave within 9 months of employment each year. An employer that modifies its accrual method after January 1, 2015 will need to comply with either the accrual methods prescribed in the law or with the 24-hour lump-sum method.

Unlimited Leave: Under the law, employers must indicate the balance of available paid sick leave on each employee’s pay-stub. This presented a challenge to employers that maintain an unlimited paid sick leave policy. The amendments address this challenge and allow employers to indicate “unlimited” as the balance of available paid sick leave.

The amendments provide welcome clarification and additional options for employers, but many of the technicalities remain unchanged. Employers should engage in a careful review of the law before making changes to existing policies. If you have questions concerning these amendments or your sick leave policy, reach out to a member of the Filice Compliance Team.